Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized’ Category

July Qualification Grant Awarded to Pepper

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Last week, we revealed our July Amber Grant finalists. Now, we’re delighted to introduce you to the winning ladies behind the brand — Jaclyn Fu and Lia Winograd, Founders of Pepper. Their company makes better fitting clothes for small-chested women — with an early focus on bras.

Read our interview below to learn about their early experiences in business — and gain some helpful PR tips for promotion…

How did you come up with the name Pepper?

Lia and I spent weeks trying to come up with a name. Over lunch, we started
throwing out random words based on what was in our immediate vicinity.
Potential names in this discussion included Sandwich, Spork, Napkin, Table,
Salt… and then ‘Pepper’.

We both looked at each other and knew it was the one. Pepper sounded
feminine, playful and distinct from every other lingerie company brand. It
had a strong ‘P’ sound which aligned nicely with ‘petite’. We also loved
that peppercorns were round and small, but also packed a lot of punch!

How many pre-orders have you received since you started?

We launched our first design, the All-You Bra, on Kickstarter in April 2017
with the initial goal of meeting minimum production requirements of
$10,000. We raised that in just 10 hours, and in 13 days we were 470%
funded with over 950 backers. We quickly opened up an online pre-order
store after and sold 400 additional bras since then, reaching $65,000 in
pre-order sales in just three months!

To what do you credit the exposure you’ve gotten in some major media
outlets in such a short time?
(Pepper has been featured in Allure, The Huffington Post, and other prominent outlets.)

A willingness to roll up the sleeves and do the dirty work. We didn’t have
the money to hire a PR agency, so we had to figure it out ourselves. It
required A LOT of hours putting together our PR hit list 2 months before
launch, and doing the research on contact information, relevancy and
possible angles. We also spent a lot of time refining our press release and
personalizing the outreach emails for each contact. I would recommend
starting the conversation with your PR contacts a few weeks before your
launch so that they can line up their coverage right with your launch date.
And if people don’t respond to your emails, change up the copy and subject
line and email them again!

If helpful for others, I also wrote down some of the steps and lessons we learned from our first PR efforts on my blog.

Are you going to patent your new cup mold?

It’s something we evaluated, but due to the time and money involved, we
want to focus on fulfilling our current pre-orders first and getting
customer feedback on how these cups are received.

Having an awesome product is important to the Pepper experience, but how we
really want to differentiate and defend our brand is to cultivate authentic
relationships with our customers that can’t be replicated. This is why if
we receive the $1000 Amber Grant, we plan on investing it towards a
customer reviews platform that will allow us to capture reviews, share them
on our website, and create trust and transparency with our customers.

We created Pepper to make meaningful impact in our customers’ lives and
their view on body image. Bras are the first step, but we also plan on
expanding into swim, athletic wear, and other clothing that will help a
small-chested woman feel awesome. Patents could be in our future!

Do you plan to sell your clothing exclusively online?

For the time being, Pepper will be a direct-to-consumer online business.
Our goals for the next few years are to build up the brand, optimize our
supply chain efficiencies, and refine our product designs before we expand
into retail distribution.

To leverage in-person shopping, we plan on creating pop-up experiences by
partnering with other vendors and using them as community events. We see
these events as a fun way to test in-person retail and to connect with our
customers!

June Qualification Grant Awarded to Baby Bay Box

Monday, July 10th, 2017

June was a special month here at WomensNet.

On Sunday, we unveiled 1 of 2 Qualification Grant winners for June.

Today, we’re proud to share the 2nd winner — Anna Dailey, Founder of Baby Bay Box.

Enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, Anna is 1 of the youngest grant recipients in our history. Continue on to get a taste of why we chose to support her business…

WN: What prompted you to start up Baby Bay Box?

AD: I came up with the idea while I was working as a nanny in my hometown, caring primarily for babies and toddlers. From my close contact with these families, I learned about the exorbitant amount of cash parents spend trying to keep their children stylish and comfortable. I observed as some families formed small hand-me-down circles throughout the neighborhood and that got me thinking. What if I could expand those informal networks and allow them to reach anyone around the world? I saw the potential in these systems and decided to elevate them to an E-commerce platform. I want to save parents money and time that they would have spent shopping and help them keep up with the growth of their rapidly-developing children. In addition, I want to minimize environmental waste by reducing the amount of clothing items that sit around the house once a child grows too big. I am extremely passionate about this project, and I have seen firsthand the stress-relieving effect that Baby Bay Box has on a parent.

WN: Where did the name Baby Bay Box come from?

AD: Well, I’m sure the “Baby” and “Box” parts of the name are rather self-explanatory. As far as “Bay,” that part has a couple meanings. Firstly, I am from the Bay Area in California, so that word has a personal significance to me. All of the families that inspired the idea are Bay Area residents as well.

In addition, I handpick styles that could be “baby-neutral” (not necessarily just for boys/girls). Though I do not limit the styles to shades of grey, I refrain from items that depicts traditionally female or male figures. I stick to colors, prints, and the occasional animal. “Bay” is an up and coming gender-neutral baby name, which I think suits the brand nicely.

With these meaningful words paired with a convenient alliteration, I knew I had to go with Baby Bay Box.

WN: When is the website expected to launch?

AD: If all goes well, we will launch before 2017 is out! Wish us luck!

WN: We know you’ve tested the product with a few families in Philadelphia. What have you learned from that experience?

AD: Yes! We ran a pilot in Philadelphia this past spring. I was primarily concerned with logistics of the supply chain (laundry, shipping, etc). So far, I’ve received valuable feedback from the families and very few complaints. I want to upscale the quality of the packaging as well as work out a more seamless shipping method. The experience was very illuminating and I hope to present an even better product when we launch officially!

WN: Who is manufacturing the clothing? Is there a challenge in building up enough initial inventory?

AD: So far, we’ve purchased most of our inventory from 100% organic wholesalers as well as a few Etsy sellers. For the future, we hope to get more high end brands involved.

There is a challenge in building up inventory because we don’t want to have too much on our hands with no one to buy it. It will be on us to ensure that we have enough customers committed to pre-sale so that we don’t end up in a ditch too deep to climb out of.

WN: What are your long-term goals with Baby Bay Box?

AD: Sometimes when I think about the possibilities of Baby Bay Box’s future my head starts to spin. I have such faith in the project and such confidence in the customers’ need for it that I truly believe we will succeed. Of course, it will take a lot of hard work and a substantial amount of “right place right time” kind of luck, but I think we’ll get there. The biggest goal that I have for Baby Bay Box is to reach the highest number of customers possible. I want it to be a household name- like Rent the Runway or Gymboree. I also would like to manufacture my own baby apparel line some time in the future. I could see my style being minimalistic with lots of greys, creams, and blues.

The more people are using the service, the higher quality we’ll be able to make the clothes. I’m especially motivated to grow the company because, with each new customer, we’re eliminating a heap of fabric that would’ve likely been used very little or not at all. I am driven to make these goals a reality when I think of the millions of parents that we could be helping and all of the fabric we could conserve. When the benefits are so tangible, I feel it is my obligation to make it happen.

June Qualification Grant Awarded to Mama Joy Foods

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Recently, we announced our June finalists. Now we’re thrilled to introduce you to 1 of our 2 June Qualification Grant winners, Joy Leeper, Owner of Mama Joy Foods.

Read on to learn about her business, her advice for other female entrepreneurs, and more…

WN: How did Mama Joy Foods come about?

JL: In 2012, our oldest daughter (who was 10 at the time) was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After 2 years of being on immune suppressing medication and months of high dose steroids, we were seeing no improvement to her health. In 2014, her pediatric gastroenterologist started talking about putting her on a new medication and possibly doing surgery. As her parents, we were not comfortable with either of these options. We started researching alternatives to medication and learned of a certain diet for people like our daughter. 

After one year of our daughter being on this diet, we took her in for her annual checkup with her pediatric gastroenterologist. A series of blood tests is always mandatory after her appointments and when we received her test results, we were very happy! They were the best results (meaning all of her tests were within “normal” range) we have had since before her diagnosis. At that moment, we knew that this diet was a forever diet for her.

Mama Joy

Making her foods required a lot of time and energy. It was preventing me from spending quality time with my family while working full time. So, in 2015, I quit my corporate job to stay home with our son. This also allowed me the time necessary to make her all the foods she enjoyed and to try new recipes for her! 
A few months into my new life as a stay-at-home mom, I thought about the struggles I went through while working full time. It was almost impossible to find ready-made, natural food for her to enjoy. My family encouraged me to start my own business so that other families can have yummy foods to help support their diets. All of my foods are Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Grain-Free. Most of my foods are also Paleo and Vegan Friendly.

WN: What type of response have you received from consumers?

JL: Going through the process of starting my business has been very rewarding. I performed market testing at a few farmer’s markets and the response was overwhelmingly positive! I sold out at almost every market! My favorite story is from a family with three young children. I saw them looking over all my food and whispering to each other. They came up to me with HUGE smiles on their faces. They had decided to buy a package of pumpkin bars. The kids informed me they all had a dairy allergy and were so excited to see something they could eat at the farmer’s market. It brought tears to my eyes! Even people who do not have any food sensitivities have loved my foods. They love that I use very few ingredients and those ingredients are natural. My slogan is “Taste how good being healthy can be!”

WN: What type of interest have you received from grocery stores and restaurants?

JL: At one of my first farmer’s markets, I was approached by the owner of a local bakery/coffee shop. She had heard about my company from other people around the market and learned that all of my foods are Gluten-Free. Since local bakeries and grocery stores do not have the capability of making baked goods that are Gluten-Free, my foods appeal to these stores, as they still need these options for their customers. Since then, I have worked to get nutritional content and sales sheets ready so I can pitch my foods around the Eastern Iowa area. I will be hitting the pavement the middle of July. I will pitch Mama Joy Foods to the stores where I think customers will want to purchase my baked goods.

WN: What are your long-term goals with Mama Joy Foods?

JL: My goal is to be in twelve grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants by the end of 2017. I am starting with two of my best-selling cookies: our Sweet as Sugar Cookies and our Chocolate Chip Cookies. If I reach my goal, I will look to open my own commercial kitchen so I can start expanding and selling more of my products.

WN: Where can people purchase your products?

JL: Currently, I sell my foods online at www.mamajoyfoods.com.

Soon, I hope customers will be able to find my foods at New Pioneer Co-op, Natural Grocers, in the Hy-Vee Health food section, and at local coffee shops and restaurants in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas. In a few years, my dream is to be in Whole Foods Markets.

WN: What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

JL: I suppose most people would say, never give up on your dream if you truly believe in your product. What I would say is, starting your own business is really hard work, but totally worth it. I understand why people say their business is “their baby.” Having children is hard work, but the amount of pride you feel when they succeed is amazing! The same is true for your business. Watching people taste your food and smile when they try it for the first time, makes my heart soar! I still get teary eyed when children with food sensitivities are so grateful for my food. I also love learning new things. So, starting my business really satisfied my intellectual curiosity. There was a point though, where I had no idea what I needed to do next. Partnering with the Small Business Development Center was one of the smartest things I have done for my business. I truly cannot say enough about the staff there! They have been so supportive of Mama Joy Foods and have really helped me believe in myself as a business owner.

WN: Do you have anything else you’d like to share about Mama Joy Foods?

JL: Our daughter getting Crohn’s Disease was one of the worst and best experiences for our family. It is something she will always have and is something she has to think about on a daily basis. There are moments when she asks, “Why me mom?” It is in those moments when I am reminded of everything we have learned and how we have changed (for the better) as a family. It was through our struggles that we have learned the power of food, how to have the strength to do what is right for our family, and how to start a business to help others in similar circumstances. If I could take away her Crohn’s Disease, I would, but I am proud that we turned our struggles into delicious cookies!

Yoga2Sleep is our April Qualification Grant Recipient

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week we announced our April finalists. Now, we’re thrilled to finally introduce you to our April Qualification Grant winner, Pamela Stokes Eggleston, Founder of Yoga2Sleep.

Read our interview with Pamela below to learn more about her and her business.

aloo
Pamela Stokes Eggleston
Yoga2Sleep

WN: Talk about the purpose of Yoga2Sleep and your motivation behind the business.

Pamela: To understand why I chose (or why it was chosen for me by the Universe) to create Yoga2Sleep, I need to share my story. I am the daughter of an Air Force veteran and granddaughter of an Army veteran who served in WWII. And for close to 15 years, I’ve been a veteran caregiver to my husband, an Army veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient who was initially pronounced dead only to survive his visible and invisible wounds during two OIF tours. His PTSD and my subsequent PTSD produced sleep deprivation for the both of us….and I LOVE sleep. And I LOVE yoga….so Yoga2Sleep was born!

My caregiving journey has been an arduous challenge; some days I didn’t know how we were going to make it. I still don’t. It’s a day to day journey. I suffered in silence as many caregivers do. I struggled with my “new normal.” All I loved – yoga, gardening, reading, writing – dropped to the side. Alas, it was these hardships and an invitation to the Maryland State Caregiver Support Coordination Council that ignited my passion: I cofounded a military families national nonprofit, I created a caregivers program for the organization, and I began teaching and sharing yoga and mindfulness with veterans, service members and their families, most recently using my Yoga2Sleep platform.

WN: Where is your business located? Describe the place(s) you operate in.

Pamela: Yoga2Sleep is located in the Washington DC metropolitan area, serving Maryland, DC, Virginia and globally. I work within several yoga studios, but also within wellness centers and corporate offices.

WN: What qualifications do you have as a Yoga instructor?

Pamela: I am a 500+ hour yoga instructor and meditation teacher, including certifications in yoga therapy and prenatal yoga, with a focus on everyday mindfulness and yoga for all.

WN: What are your goals for the future? How will you use the April Qualification Grant to reach them?

Pamela: I’d love to do a radical self care retreat for women with trauma and sleep deprivation. Women are more sleep deprived than men (surprise!) and we don’t take care of us enough.

WN: What’s your advice for other women entrepreneurs?

Pamela: Create, create, create! It’s your natural state; don’t worry about what has not been done. Develop it yourself and do it. Don’t allow naysayers’ messages to slip into your psyche; silently dismiss and focus. Don’t tell everybody your plans – many will not be able to handle your truth – everything isn’t for everybody! Do focus on at least ONE thing towards your venture daily.

Thanks for reading. Remember that we award a grant each month – if interested, please apply today.

aLoo is our March Qualification Grant Recipient!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Last week announced our March finalists and now we’re happy to finally introduce you to our March Qualification Grant winner, Aarti Mehta , Founder of aLoo.

Read our interview with Aarti below to learn more about her and how she came up with the idea for aLoo

aloo
Aarti Mehta MD
aLoo
Website

WN: For those who don’t know what aLoo is, would you mind telling us a bit about your business?
AM: aLoo is a patent pending device that prevents backwash from re-entering the infant bottle during feeding. The product is a one-way valve and reservoir that can be placed in the cap of the baby bottle when preparing for feeding. As I started bottle feeding, I realized that my daughter’s saliva would flow back into the bottle and felt guilty saving the remaining liquid to reuse knowing that the milk may contain bacteria from her backwash. This was quite a dilemma for me because it was challenging to produce ample breast milk AND I was scheduled to return to work soon. I was determined to use every drop of this liquid gold and it was this realization made me want to find a solution.

WN: Can the nipple & Cap be used with any bottle?
AM: I quickly learned that there are so many innovative bottles on the market and parents/babies have their favorite brand. Knowing that there are challenges transition from breast to bottle, we did not want to exclude anyone merely because of bottle brand loyalty. Our initial goal is to make the device compatible across multiple bottle brands. Currently, our device is compatible with Philips Avent and we are planning to create more sizes that will work well with other brands (Dr. Brown’s, Medela, Tommee Tippee and Playtex) soon.

WN: I see your aLoo is in the testing phase. Do you an expected time-frame of when you hope to release your product to the public?
AM: Yes, we have a working prototype! We produced a prototype that fits Philips Avent and have had a microbiological lab test the device to see if it works. I am happy to say that they confirmed our device prevents over 99% of the bacteria from flowing back into the bottle! We have been sharing the device with consumers for initial feedback and are launching a Kickstarter campaign soon to raise funds to manufacture aLoo on a larger scale. If our campaign is successful, we should be able to start selling aLoo this summer!

WN: Do you plan to sell your product exclusively online or do you hope to sell to other retail stores?
AM: The ultimate goal will be to offer our product in retail stores (BuyBuy Baby, Babies R Us, Target) and be included in expecting parents’ baby registries. However, initially we will focus on solely offering aLoo online through our website: http://www.myaloo.com/ and possibly through Amazon.

WN: Do you have any advice for other aspiring mompreneurs?
AM: This is the advice my business partner gave me (this is exactly why he is my business partner!) “Make sure that the product or service you are offering is something you believe in.” It takes a lot of determination and hard work to develop an idea into reality. Do not be afraid to share your idea with others and ask for help. I was amazed by how many people were willing to provide their guidance and help me navigate through the challenges of starting a business. For me, it was helpful to network and talk to other entrepreneurs to share struggles and learn from each other. I was overwhelmed at how helpful the community has been and realized there are many resources that make launching a business more efficient than it was many years ago!

If you’d like to vote for Aarti to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.

And thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.

We’ve announced our $1,500 Amber Grant winner!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Last year we came up with a new way to give back grants to the WomensNet community. This allowed us to continue awarding monthly Grants of $500, as selected by our WomensNet judges. But it also gave us the opportunity to award an additional $1,000 grant to one of our 12 monthly winners, called The Amber Grant.

Not too long ago we narrowed down our Amber Grant finalists to three great companies; NAJMTEK, GloveStix, and Yellow Scope. Choosing between these three women and their companies was extremely tough but after much debate we have finally chosen our second annual Amber Grant Winner.

Congrats Krista Woods, founder of GloveStix!

Krista Woods

Watch Krista’s video to learn more about GloveStix & how her product helps clear up the smelly situation most people have in their mud rooms.

 

As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

Stay tuned: We will be announcing January’s Qualification Grant finalists very soon!